SD69 (Qualicum)’s school board is seeking the ability for it, and all other B.C. school boards, to run deficits in their annual budgets. — Adam Kveton Photo

SD69 trustees seek ability to run deficits

Letter sent to Min. of Ed. requesting change to School Act

School districts in B.C. are being denied opportunities to spend money to make money — and to help kids learn — when those investments take more than a year to pay off.

That’s the view of the School District 69 (Qualicum) school board, which has sent a letter to the B.C. ministers of education and finance proposing a change to the School Act that would allow school boards to run deficits in their annual budgets.

The proposal was initially part of a wider proposal to change the School Act, which was submitted by SD69’s previous board in 2014. The deficit proposal was brought up again by trustee and vice-chair Julie Austin at the board’s Oct. 24 meeting.

The letter to the ministers was sent in early November.

“It’s never made a whole lot of sense to budget on an annual basis,” Austin said in an interview after the board’s Nov. 28 meeting.

That’s because the stipulation in the School Act that a school district’s estimated yearly expenditures must not exceed estimated revenues means a loss of opportunity when it comes to investments that take more than a year to pay off, she said.

The board provided an example in its letter to the ministers:

“Our board was presented with a proposal from our trades teachers to buy a gutted residence in an expanding neighbourhood very near one of our high schools,” reads the letter. “This project would have greatly benefitted our trades programs, computer design classes, math classes, etc., as the house would be finished by the local high school students.

“The house would then have been sold, most likely at a profit. In order to have created this opportunity for our students the board had to act quickly and finance the project with our surplus. Unfortunately, the surplus was needed that year to balance the budget and the board was unable to consider the proposal.”

Austin’s motion to send the letter didn’t pass without some concern.

“As soon as I hear ‘deficit,’ the hair stands up on the back of my head,” Trustee Barry Kurland said, adding, “I just think it’s a bad road to go down.”

Nonetheless, the motion was carried.

With the Ministry of Education currently undergoing a funding review, Austin said she hoped the timing would be right for consideration of the proposal.

“I think people recognize that it makes sense. It’s just getting them to make that extra step,” Austin said.

Even if the government doesn’t allow deficits, she said, the proposal might at least bring attention to the problem and get the government to consider other potential options for addressing it.

Send news tips to:

adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Hotel, restaurant and multi-use residential complex proposed for Resort Drive

Parksville could soon see more rental units, some zoned for commercial use

Inside the music

Big Read: step behind the curtain at the venerable Vancouver Island Music Festival

ECHO Players’ 2018/19 season announced

Qualicum Beach theatre company to show Peter Pan musical, Enchanted April and more

More Qualicum Beach, Nanoose Douglas-fir ecosystem protected from logging

B.C. Gov’t announces 980.5 hectares of protected land added

Qualicum Beach mayor plans to run for re-election

Teunis Westbroek hopes to continue serving needs of Town’s residents as mayor

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

Organizers of West Coast sport fishing ban troll for attention

Hook-less anglers hitting Sooke area waters July 29 to protest DFO’s summer fin-fish ban

From hot dog to not dog: stuffed toy prompts car break in

Victoria couple said dog toy had been in the backseat for 18 years without problems

VIDEO: Open water swimming from B.C. to Washington in 24 hours

The swim will take a full day, meaning Susan Simmons will be swimming in the black of night

Cigarette packs with graphic images, blunt warnings are effective: focus groups

Warnings considered effective flag ailments smoking can cause, like colorectal and stomach cancers

Canada’s title hopes quashed at Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

On the men’s side, Canada was eliminated in the round of 16 as they were shut out by Argentina 28-0

‘We are doing the right thing:’ Protesters dig in at anti-pipeline camp

B.C. Supreme Court ruled in March that both the camp and a nearby watch house could remain in place

Astronaut drops in on Kraftwerk gig, plays duet from space

Alexander Gerst becomes an astronaut musician with live performance from International Space Station

Most Read